Location-based service (LBS) technology has been growing in line with the development of both the mobile devices we use to connect and the wider proliferation of cloud computing services which we seek to connect into.
Traditionally, location services fall into two types:
PUSH LBS: location services can be push-based e.g. alerts sent to users when they pass into pre-specified geographic areas such as restaurants or shops etc.
PULL (or QUERY) LBS: location services can be pulled e.g. alerts sent to users in response to queries they make related to where they are.
Multi-user location services
But a third “multiple-user” type of location service or model could now be about to develop as we now start to use the cloud and our mobile devices to connect with each other.
A new-ish app has surfaced on the Apple App Store called Find My Friends. Free from Apple itself, this app allows users running iOS 5 or later and sign in with their iCloud Apple ID and send a request to friends to be able to see their location.
Of course this is not really a new third type of location based service. All LBS technologies must legally be permission-based so that a user “opts in” in order for a service to know the device’s location and receive the information in question
According to Apple’s app description, “You can also choose to share your location with a group of friends for a limited time. Use Find My Friends to keep track of your traveling companions when you’re on vacation. Or to see if the kids are home from school. Or to meet up with friends for dinner. If you’re running iOS 6, you can also set up location-based alerts — to notify you when your kids leave school or a family member arrives home safely — or have Find My Friends notify others about your location.”
A developer opportunity?
So OK it’s a nice idea for an app and quite a cute thing to have on your iPad or iPhone…
But what we also have here is a software application development opportunity for programmers to combine mobile, LBS and cloud technologies together and present a new breed of apps that allows us to interact with each other based upon where we are, what we are doing and the interests or user preferences that we may have set to govern the public information about ourselves that we make available to others.